Forward Luke Harangody believes low expectations for Notre Dame's basketball season can be a good thing.
"I think it's nice we're in the position we are right now to shock some people," Harangody said Thursday as the team held its annual media day.
The Irish always seem to defy expectations. Three years ago, they were picked to finish 11th in the Big East and ended the year in fourth place. Two years ago they were picked to finish ninth and tied for second.
Last season, Notre Dame opened the season ranked No. 9 and were picked to finish fourth in the league. The team finished in 10th place and ended the season 21-15 after settling for an NIT berth.
Harangody, who has twice led the Big East in scoring and rebounding, believes the Irish will be picked to finish anywhere from ninth to 13th in the 16-team league. He said the team's goal is to get back to the NCAA tournament.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said that should be the goal, even after losing 6-8 forward Scott Martin to a season-ending knee injury earlier this month.
"It's going to be a little different. It's going to be a little tougher," he said.
Besides Harangody, the only other returning starter is guard Tory Jackson, who averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds a game. The Irish add Ben Hansbrough, a 6-foot-3 guard who started 28 of Mississippi State's 34 games during the 2007-08 season and was fourth on the team with a 10.5 scoring average before transferring.
Ty Nash is expected to get more playing time at forward. The Irish are looking to Carleton Scott and Tim Abromaitis, a pair of juniors who haven't played much, to contribute.
Brey said even though the Irish lost four seniors last season, they still have an older group of players.
"Any time you're old in college basketball and you're old in the league we've signed up to play in, you always have a shot," he said.
Harangody, who put his name in to the NBA draft before pulling it out before the deadline, said the experience helped him improve his game. The 6-foot-6 Harangody still weighs 245 pounds, the same as last season, but looks more chiseled.
Harangody has a chance to become the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. The senior class of Harangody, Jackson and Jonathan Peoples needs 23 wins to post the most victories ever at Notre Dame.
"They want to be the winningest class in history," Brey said. "Now 23 wins, you're going to have to be on a heck of a run. But to be in that territory to do that, given that they've played through the Big East, I'm really proud of them."